Sender was a very poor man. He lived on the few pennies people paid him for doing their chores, like chopping wood, burning garbage, or hauling water. Yet he was happier than many a rich man with all the money he could ever spend. For riches do not make a man happy, as our Sages said: “He who has one hundred silver pieces craves two hundred.”

Sender was not a learned man either, but there was one saying of our Sages that he always carried in his heart and which made him happy. It was the famous saying of Ben Zoma: “Who is rich? He who is content with his lot.” He had heard it quoted by a visiting maggid who preached in the synagogue in which he prayed. Sender, who always listened carefully but understood little, had walked out of the synagogue that Shabbat afternoon elated by the feeling that one of the great Sages had said exactly the same thing he always told his wife, Bryna, when she complained about their poverty. Too bad his wife would not accept such reasoning. She said she felt ashamed when she had to walk around in patched and worn clothes while all her neighbors wore new dresses and kerchiefs.

As usual, Sender was reciting Tehillim (Psalms) as he concluded his morning prayers. And, as usual, Bryna scolded him and called him lazy. Sender was not lazy, but he would rather have starved than leave his house before reciting the whole of King David’s Psalms. For this was his special service to G‑d, and this was his studying, as well. To his great sorrow he had never been able to advance beyond the reading of the Bible. He therefore concentrated on reciting Tehillim. In this, Sender felt, he and the great scholars were alike. He awoke at the first sign of dawn, and finished when other people were rising from their warm and comfortable beds. But his wife never failed to call him lazy. This time, however, she really had good reason to be dissatisfied. The winter was cold and the people stayed home instead of going out to work in the freezing weather. Sender could not afford such luxury. He had been visiting his usual customers, but wherever he knocked, the reply was, “Come another time, Sender.” This went on all week, and Erev Shabbat found them without a single penny in the house. Worse still, there was no sign of relief from the cold and snow, which would permit him to find work.

Sender felt a bit guilty when he rushed through the last part of the Tehillim while Bryna was wailing over her sad fate and complaining about her lazy husband who depended on miracles and who said Tehillim instead of going out into the village to earn some money for Shabbat. “Shah, shah, Brynale, I’ll be finished in a minute, and then I shall go out and with the help of G‑d I shall bring you plenty of money and good food for the holy Shabbat.”

“Certainly,” snapped his wife, “miracles will happen to you, old fool. Why don’t you take the dry old Lulav that you brought home after Succot. Who knows, perhaps it will turn into gold,” she said sarcastically.

“Be calm, my dear wife,” Sender tried to appease her. “If G‑d wants, even the old Lulav may become a source of blessing for me.” Enraged by her husband’s calm acceptance of his fate, the desperate woman picked up the dry old Lulav from corner, and threw it at Sender. “There is your treasure. Go and provide food for Shabbat!”

Sender did not reply to his wife’s angry insults. He closed his worn Psalm book, took the old lulav in his hand, and left the house.

“Look, there goes Sender with an old lulav in the middle of the winter,” exclaimed the children who were pressing their noses against the frozen windowpanes and their laughter was echoed in the ridicule of their elders. But Sender did not seem to care a bit. Full of faith, he recited the words of the last few chapters of Tehillim, which he had not managed to finish at home. Looking neither to the right nor to the left, he walked straight on through the deep snow. He trudged along until the hills were behind him and he reached the deep valley, whose rich fields were covered by soft, glittering snow. Exalted by his feeling of hope in the help of G‑d, he went on. “All my soul shall praise G‑d "Symbol" Halleluyah.” Over and over again he sang these last words of King David, and with him sang every tree and branch, every clod of frozen earth, and the clouds and the heaven above. The entire universe joined Sender in his jubilant praise of G‑d.

“Where am I?” wondered Sender, as he looked around and found himself in a city of beautiful white and gray marble mansions, surrounded by the most delightful gardens and parks. “Why, isn’t it winter here? Or am I dreaming? He pinched himself to see whether he was awake. His village had never looked like this, even during the nicest part of spring or summer. Thrilled by all the beauty about him, Sender walked through the strange streets in his old, patched-up suit, the dry lulav in his right hand. Suddenly, he found himself in a large square before an all-white alabaster palace. A large crowd had gathered in front of the huge brass door, as if waiting for something important. Sender came closer to find out what the people were waiting for. When he asked one of the bystanders the reason for the gathering, the man silenced him by signaling to him to keep quiet. Now Sender was really curious. He pushed his way through the crowd which looked in astonishment at the ragged stranger clutching an old tree-branch in his hand. But they let him pass. Nothing Sender saw there gave him a clue as to what was going on. After a few minutes, a herald opened the glass door to the balcony, stepped out, and faced the silent crowd. He read the following announcement: “To my citizens be it known that I shall royally reward the man who owns a palm tree and can provide a fruit for the Crown Prince. Only juice from dates can save his life. Do not hesitate. Come forth immediately if you have a palm tree.”

Like everyone else in the crowd, Sender turned around and looked for the fortunate man who could produce the date-tree. But no one stepped forward. The people asked each other: “What is a palm tree? Have you ever heard of such a plant?” After a while some people brought all kinds of strange fruits to the guard at the royal gate. But, each time he returned after a few seconds, shook his head and said: “Sorry, the doctor says these are not dates.” They stopped bringing fruits. “Look out!” exclaimed a man whom Sender had accidentally poked with the old lulav. Sender excused himself and looked at the branch in his hand. “Why, isn’t this a branch from a palm tree?” he exclaimed suddenly. The crowd made room for him as he pushed through to the man at the gate.

“I think this is part of a palm tree,” Sender told the guard. “But I am afraid it is of no service to the crown prince. For it is old and dry, and will not bear any fruits.”

“What are you talking about,” exclaimed the man, equally excited. “Have you no eyes?”

Sender looked at the Lulav, and lo and behold, it was as green and fresh as the one the Rabbi had used on Succos, which had been admired by the entire community. “Praised be G‑d,” he thought, as he was led into the palace through beautifully painted halls and up the marble staircase.

“Welcome, stranger,” said the king, who had himself come to the stairs to greet the savior of his beloved son. He led Sender into a huge bedroom laid out with ebony and ivory. A handsome boy lay on a silk-covered bed, his face white and distorted. Next to his bed stood an elderly doctor. “Thank G‑d, you came just in time.” He took the green palm-branch from Sender’s hand, planted it into a large earth-filled basin, and, oh miracle, before Sender’s eyes his old lulav began to bud and to grow fruit.

Beautiful carriages filled with precious gifts and drawn by four horses carried Sender back to his village. Bryna had been standing in front of her poor hut, wringing her hands over Sender’s long absence and crying, “I wish I had not sent him away so rudely. Who knows what has happened to him? O G‑d, please bring him back to me, even if he did not earn any money.”

Suddenly she saw a beautiful carriage approaching. Behind it ran all the children of the village. A liveried coachman opened the door and out jumped Sender! The coachman handed Sender package after package of gifts.

“This is all for you, Bryna. The old, dry lulav was truly a great and miraculous treasure for me,” Sender said to his astonished wife.